In this day and age, the music industry is flooded with people, like you, who want to begin a music career. We will discuss how to start your music career. You’ll want to explore all available avenues and use any tools necessary to make your work stand out. You need to begin to treat your music as a business. Perfecting your craft, networking, and creating quality content is just the start. You’ll also need to sustain your business and perform consistently to dedicate the time it takes to become successful. We’ll give you all of the help we can to start you on your path. While it may take a bit of time, you’ll be able to achieve your goals and start making money using the music you create.
Steps To Start Your Music Career
- Create goals and have a plan of action
- Continually perfect your craft
- Sustainability and budget
- Have an entrepreneurial mindset
- Create your brand/identity
- Start small and think big
- Stay consistent
- Use social media
- Network locally and within relevant communities
- Build a team and support others
- Stay humble but know your worth
- Take constructive criticism and accept rejection
- Never stop learning
- Pursue distribution, copyright, and royalties
Short Term Goals And A Plan
The first step in making anything into a career is having a plan and seeing it through. Most people have to work hard for many years to get to where they want in the music industry. You must envision what it is you want to do and set reasonable goals that you can achieve. Do you have enough experience to create the music you have in mind? What kind of musician do you want to be? Do you have the proper equipment and software?
Here are a few goals that you can set for yourself:
- Practice music theory and playing by ear
- Record yourself to perfect your technique
- Learn more popular songs that get attention
- Reach out to smaller venues about performing live
- Ask friends and family to critique your music and ability honestly
These are all short-term and reasonable goals that you can achieve to get you started. Remember to set new goals so that you can always enhance your situation.
- Continually Perfect Your Craft
You should always be looking to improve. Whether it’s playing an instrument you already know, learning a new one, or performing multiple acts simultaneously, there is always room to grow. If you have this mindset, you’ll find yourself more and more skilled as time goes on, opening up new opportunities and increasing your chances of success. You can practice that song that’s been giving you trouble or even learn how to play an instrument and sing simultaneously. The possibilities are almost endless. Once you reach a plateau, look toward a new one to enhance your repertoire and increase your skills in any way that you can.
- Sustainability And Budget
Before you begin to pour money into something that’s not an asset, you have to make sure that you plan accordingly and spend wisely. You shouldn’t buy a new piece of equipment just because it’s the best item on the market at the time. This kind of mistake can set you back and give you a harder time earning your money back from that purchase. Having another occupation in the meantime is just fine and will help contribute to your dream music career. Upgrade your equipment little by little and only if it’s necessary. These items should also potentially be able to pay for themselves once you can sell your music. For instance, If you already have multiple instruments, you might not need to buy another, but if your microphone has malfunctioned, you need to make sure it’s replaced so that you can record again. Don’t stretch yourself too thin so that you’re able to spend money on the things you need to grow your music as a business.
- Have An Entrepreneurial Mindset
You already know that you want to make your music into a business. What you need to do once you decide is to know the risk and reward for doing so. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about wanting to make money independently. It’s about the hope of making a profit from something that risks not making a return at first. Attach a reason as to why you want to achieve your long-term goal of having a career in music. Are you passionate about creating music? Do you feel that you’ve always had the natural ability to do so? Your answer shouldn’t be, “I just want to make money.” This isn’t a good enough reason. You need to have the drive and motivation to achieve goals, not only because they might make you a profit but also because there is a bigger picture for you to accomplish something in your musical career.
- Create Your Brand Or Identity
Creating a brand doesn’t mean that you have to change anything about yourself or your music necessarily. On the contrary, it can sometimes mean realizing the thing that identifies most with you and what you create. Some artists keep a simple stage name while others choose to give their band something unique. Only you can discover and change this according to your identity and what you want your music to be represented by. Once you figure out what your brand consists of, you can build on it and evolve from there. People that hear your music and like it will remember your name and possibly seek you out again afterward. That’s why you’ll want to make this decision and stick to it. It can be difficult for anyone to follow you when just starting in music, but it will make it that much harder for listeners to remember who you are if your name changes every few months. Find a niche that you feel your music fills or something that is part of your unique identity. As long as it represents what you create, make it yours and start growing your brand from there. This also comes into play later on when you want to sell your product. You’ll want to sell your music and any merchandise that you can offer when the time comes.
- Start Small And Think Big
When you first start putting yourself out there, you have to take whatever opportunity you can to gain exposure and make a name for yourself. You also have to have the goals in mind to help you reach the next level of your career. We recommend starting local and going from there. Search for venues that will allow you to perform for free, even if it’s something simple like an open mic or amateur night. People love listening to live music, and this is a method of building on your experience and skill that practicing on your own won’t give you. You should also record these performances and use that media to create more content. You can create videos showcasing your live music to allow people to find you for free. We’ll cover more about social media use later on, but you should always try to record yourself at a decent quality so that you can use it at a different time.
You should also aim for paid performances once you have the experience. If a venue offers a bit of compensation for your music, that’s a direct profit that you’ll start making from it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to businesses and bigger venues to get a booking to perform there. The more you do, the more you can build your portfolio and brand to make more of a name for yourself as time goes on. This will open up bigger and better opportunities for you to not only make more of a profit but gain more exposure and further your career as much as you can.
- Stay Consistent
You may feel that you have to create as much content as you can or perform every night of the week if possible, but that’s not always the best choice. While it’s important to gain exposure and experience, you don’t want to wear yourself thin. Consistency is key, and that means finding the schedule that best fits your lifestyle. If you’re already working and creating music on the side, it can take away from the time you have to work on your music. It might sound discouraging, but you have to remember to rest to have the energy to complete whatever tasks you have in mind. If your job requires you to work throughout the week, you’ll have to leave performances to the weekend. Focus on staying consistent rather than working yourself too much. This way, you can reliably create content or perform and still take care of your needs. This can also help when it comes to any fanbase that you work toward. Rather than staying up all night every day to accomplish tasks, your following can know for sure that you perform on a certain day or release a new video once a week. This helps build your audience and also puts you in better practices for scheduling your time.
- Use Social Media
One of the best ways to get exposure and build an audience is by using various types of social media. We mentioned recording live performances, but you can also start official pages for your brand across different platforms to get your name out there and inform people about what you’re doing. You never know what can go viral, and you might be the next big thing on the internet. We recommend using popular sites to post your content and allow people to interact with you and your music. This allows you to promote yourself and connect with others for free. You can also find other musicians like yourself and connect online. This can lead to new opportunities and possibly even collaboration on projects that can help build your career further.
Here are some ways to use social media for your music career:
- Create profiles for your brand on various sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Edit and upload videos on YouTube and TikTok
- Stream live music on Twitch and Youtube. There are some ways to do this at the same time.
- Join forum sites like Reddit to promote yourself and connect with others like you
- Join work search websites like LinkedIn and Indeed to have a professional profile and find jobs for you to do. This can also help you connect with companies and other musicians to collaborate with
- Use websites like Linktree to create a hub where people can go to see all of your channels.
Learn how to use these websites properly. It’s not enough to repeatedly post that you’re going to be performing live at the regular venue every week. Make your content stand out in any way that you can. Edit your videos so that people view and share them. Use popular songs to gain attention and promote your original work if possible. Remember to follow the guidelines each site provides. While it is fine to post appropriate content on your own channels, self-promotion is sometimes prohibited. Join communities and be active in them so that your connections are genuine and organic. Respond to people who interact with your content to create bonds with them. You should also make sure that you link all of your other social media together using something like Linktree to make it easier for people to find you on whatever platform they prefer. You want to promote yourself on all available sites, maximizing your interaction and growth.
Speaking specifically about video media, TikTok is one of the fastest-growing apps in the past few years, averaging over one billion monthly users every month. Discoverability is the biggest asset to your growing business, and this app can help you on your way. Create your official account and begin to follow and support other artists like you so that TikTok knows what you’re interested in. Start editing, uploading your content, and cater it to your audience. Another benefit of using TikTok specifically is that this app allows you to use copyrighted music. Follow the guidelines and use this to your advantage. Cover popular songs by artists to enjoy and upload your works when you’re ready to do so. You can even combine different songs to create something unique and get more traffic to your page. Livestreaming on TikTok also becomes available once you’ve reached a certain number of followers. You can use this to build, connect, and enhance your relationship with your viewers.
We’ve touched on social media a bit, but networking isn’t just about posting your content online. You have to advertise yourself locally and in relevant communities. Think about who your music is made for. Try to find your demographic and promote yourself in those spaces. Rather than shallow self-promotion, do your best to make genuine connections with people. This will make it easier for others to follow you and become fans of your work without thinking that you’re robotically sending your content wherever you can.
- Build A Team And Support Others
When you find yourself working at growing your music career, there will come a time where you’ll need help. While friends and family might be able to assist you at first, you can’t always rely on favors. Think about assembling a team for your business. This can be anything from finding new bandmates to hiring assistants or booking agents. Always treat others respectfully and professionally, and you can ensure that people will take you seriously and respect you as well. The same mindset can be applied to supporting others in the business. Just as you’ll be looking for collaboration on projects and promoting your work, don’t be afraid to find other artists with similar interests and work together to grow. Be aware. However, that promotion for the sake of promotion can be detrimental. Don’t join groups that superficially offer “promo for promo,” as these services are looked down on in many spaces. Seek to find authentic connections with other like-minded artists to grow your network and expand your business where you can.
- Stay Humble And Know Your Worth
One of the worst things you can do as a musician trying to grow their career is to start letting it go to your head. Gaining popularity is great, and there may be a time where you feel proud of what you’ve done, but don’t allow that feeling to turn into narcissism. Remember where you came from so that others don’t get turned off by your ego. Keeping your feet on the ground mentally will show your modesty and make others respect what you’ve become.
You also need to know your worth and act appropriately. Make sure that you do your research when agreeing to jobs and services. There may be people that try to take advantage of your growth for their greed. Don’t cut corners or try to take the easy way out of any hard work you need to do. Analyze the average rates for the projects you’re going to be working on and negotiate fairly. As long as you feel that the opportunity is beneficial to you, see it through and do your best. There is always give and take when it comes to working in this type of business. The owner of a venue will hire you to perform there because they also see it as a benefit to their business. Show your value, and the work will come, growing your brand and furthering your career the more you work towards it.
- Constructive Criticism And Rejection
Working in any business is accepting the times where a project or idea doesn’t work out in your favor. Sometimes the learning experience you gain from mistakes can be more valuable than if they were to succeed. Keep an open mind when it comes to criticism, constructive or otherwise. You can use these lessons to enhance your brand and change something that might be lacking or deficient. Looking at your career in music as a business, there should always be space for you to grow and make more of a profit than before.
The same idea goes for rejection. There may be times when you don’t receive an opportunity to look forward to or lose an asset due to unforeseen circumstances. Take these moments in stride and continue to move toward your ultimate goal. Do not allow setbacks and roadblocks to determine your success. There is always a way around the obstacles you’ll face when trying to get to your finish line.
- Never Stop Learning
When it comes to any business, you’ll always want to look toward improvement and enhance your brand whenever you can. This can apply to anything from further improving your craft to expanding beyond what was possible before. There should never be a time where you feel comfortable enough to stay at the current level. As we’ve mentioned before, setting goals and reaching new plateaus should be commonplace and will always help you succeed in your music career.
- Distribute, Copyright, And Earn Royalties From Your Music
One of the biggest and most important steps you can take in your journey to turn your music into a career is distributing and copyright whatever you create. Unfortunately, there are many issues with misuse or being completely stolen from the creator, so you’ll want to copyright your music whenever you want to distribute it. Do your research and make sure that this is the step you should be taking at the time. The regulations for copyright vary depending on location but apply to many different countries outside of the U.S. There can also be discounts on the price for copyrighting when uploading multiple works at once, so consider that. You can always employ another service to help you copyright your music, but you’ll have to manage their fees as well. Once your music is protected, you can begin distributing it without the fear of being taken advantage of. There are many ways to distribute your music, but keep in mind that this is also a procedure that charges a fee. Some outlets will charge per song while others are subscription-based, so choose whichever method you feel fits best. Remember that you may want your music on certain platforms depending on your preference as well. Some are more exclusive and require customers to pay premium prices, so you’ll have to go with what you think is best for your brand. Collecting royalties is also something that you can have a company do for you, but if you do your research, you should collect on what you’re owed yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if unforeseen events get in the way of my music career?
There is nothing more important than your wellbeing and mental health. No matter what happens, remember that it’s fine to take a break from your music career if you need to.
- Why can’t I seem to get anywhere in my music career?
Building a career in music isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes hard work and perseverance to succeed, especially in an industry that is so condensed and popular. Have long-term goals set and take the appropriate steps to achieve them. Remember that while a small percentage of people have gotten rich and famous quickly, it takes months and years of dedication to see growth for most people. Be patient, and it will come if you work hard enough.
- I’ve had a falling out with a venue that I would frequent, what do I do?
While this kind of setback is unfortunate, it’s not the end of the road. Firstly, you can apologize or try to sort things out with the venue owner to get back in good standings with them. Take responsibility and know when it would be best to move on and dedicate your time to a new venture. You can also look for new places to perform or record. Always keep an open mind to expanding so that you have options if something goes awry.
Starting Your Music Career
You’re now on your way to knowing what you need to turn your music into a career. Have a plan and see it through. Budget for any expenses and continually work on mastering your craft. Remember that you want to make a career out of this, so you have to start treating it as a business and have an entrepreneurial mindset. Create your brand and use social media and other forms of networking to expand and build an audience. Don’t let mistakes or rejection deter you from reaching your goals. Build a team of like-minded people and stay humble while knowing your worth. Take care of your works by copyrighting them before you begin distribution and collecting royalties.
Also read How to start a career in photography